Naturally Ice-Free Walkways

Why It’s Worth The Extra Effort to Avoid Using DeIcers

Improper or over use of deicers is harmful to gardens, animals, and the environment. Most deicers are chemicals which contain high levels of salt. Excess salts build up in the soil, just as with the overuse of chemical fertilizers. They inhibit the uptake of moisture and nutrients, and eventually make their way to water supplies.

Nikki with the ball in the snow

Purchase a salt-free deicer such as Safe Paw™  or Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA), which are much less harmful to pets, plants, concrete, and humans. And for dog-lovers such as myself, consider dog booties… or at the very least, wiping your dog’s paws after your wintertime walks. Salt from public walkways is harmful yet a quick wipe with a wet cloth will do much to mitigate the damage, and prevent them from licking those chemical salts off their paws.

Also, please consider the weather conditions before applying a deicer. For dry, powdery snow, sweep and shovel the snow instead of deicing. There’s simply no need to use it. For heavy, wet snow, apply a small amount of deicer sprinkled in key areas of the sidewalk as soon as the snowfall begins to prevent it from bonding to the pavement. For freezing rain, use the same method: use a small but well applied portion of deicer as soon as possible.

While it might be required to use melting agents at times, let’s not risk harming our pets, garden soil or water supply by using any more than we have to. Finding more eco-friendly alternatives is the way to go!

First of All, Some Tips To Help Remember Your Own Safety

ice grips

Wear proper footwear designed for traction when dealing with ice. Purchase winter boots with solid toe and bottom treads to help increase your grip on icy surfaces. Or perhaps purchase ice-grips that temporarily attach to the bottom of your shoes to provide traction when needed.

Your shovel makes a big difference. Get the right one for your height. Try one out in the hardware store. Hold the shovel like you’re moving snow. Is it too short, too long, too narrow? You want to find one that feels comfortable. And remember, when shovelling snow, lift with your legs not with your back. If the snow is wet and heavy ‘chip away’ from the top rather than starting at the bottom and lifting all that weight. Let’s all survive, healthy and happy, through another snowy winter!

Here Are Some Eco Friendly Options For Keeping Paved Areas Ice-Free
Shovel as soon as possible, even during a snowstorm. This will give the snow less time to set, and you’ll have it out of the way before it melts and freezes, becoming ice. And remember, shovelling doesn’t have to be a solo job. Enlist the help of family members or neighbours, and there’s always an eager kid in the neighbourhood who wants to earn some extra dollars. You don’t have to do it alone.

shoveling-snowBefore a predicted snowstorm arrives, cover foot traffic areas like sidewalks and door entries with a tarp held down with bricks. Later, shovel the snow off and remove the tarp before it has a chance to freeze.

You can make areas less slippery by sprinkling with a bit of sand, fine gravel, wood chips, or even birdseed*. It won’t melt the ice, but it will add much needed traction for safety. Just be careful using near drains, as an excess of material can clog and cause spring flooding. We also need to avoid tracking sand into the house as it can damage flooring, so use an entry tray or mat for parking boots and shoes.

*NOTE: while birdseed is a great option for traction and winter-feeding for wildlife, don’t use near your house entries or flower gardens – both to avoid mice coming close (and into!) the house, and to prevent seeds becoming weeds in your garden next spring. Yes, many bird feeder seeds are tough enough to sprout and grow even after being frozen solid and walked on!

If you’re thinking of using wood ash or kitty litter, please reconsider. They don’t provide much in the way of traction or help remove ice, and they will leave a real mess once warmer weather arrives.

Some people broadcast fertilizer like 10-10-10 onto ice, thinking they’re feeding their lawn and gardens while offering a more benign solution. Not! It has lots of salt plus nitrogen and phosphorus. The run-off from rain and snow containing these materials is harming the streams and lakes of our planet.

friends of the elderly ireland

A Final Word

Let’s do something! While I am sharing ‘green’ options, if all these steps are unavailable to you and a snowfall occurs, you do have a shovel of course, and if ice has formed, use some salt! As someone who has fallen more than I care to remember, I will never permit ice to remain on my walkways. Sure, I’m spry enough, with strong enough bones (and padding, let’s be honest) so there’s been no harm done except to my pride. But every time I slip I think of a senior or anyone who may not be as tough as me. Please. Let’s do what we can to keep our walks ice-free.

13 thoughts on “Naturally Ice-Free Walkways

    1. Yes I’ve learned to shovel quickly because you’re so right – footsteps in un-shovelled snow become ice spots. And why did I forget to mention shovelling for our neighbours? Thanks so much for adding it here, as it is a very good point. Cheers! 😀

    1. Man oh man I am tempted to move south! Just slipped again walking my dog this morning. Although it wasn’t a flat out, down to the sidewalk fall… more of a comical near-fall with all the fast flailing that has to happen to counter-balance the event. Great fun! (….not!….) Yes I wonder why my family ever settled up here… and now I’m raising my sons up here. It’s no wonder my older brother moved to New Mexico decades ago! 🙂

      1. LOL. Got the hand-flailing visual. Probably a bit like me on my son’s Ripstik.

        We’re in shorts and flip-flops today. My peas are very unhappy with this warmth, and my broccoli (got the crowns already, thank you) is getting geared up to bolt.

        Not complaining one bit! But it’s gonna be hotter than Hades come June. I just know it.

        1. Wow! Shorts? Flip flops? Nice 🙂 But yes, that weather you’ve got coming in June would have me melting in someone’s basement 😉 We’ll just have to live vicariously and come July when my spinach wants to bolt, I’ll ask what worked for you back in February! Hard to imagine we’re on the same continent.

  1. Another great post. I don’t use a de-icer. I have an ice pick. It’s a metal blade with a long handle that does a super job breaking up both thin and thick ice. then it can just be shoveled or brushed away. Best part is mine was only $20 and has been used for many, many years. 🙂

    1. I can completely relate! Our flat edged spade is an excellent tool for keeping the snowy sidewalks clear and ice-free. The only catch is that one must get out there and work at it right away, sometimes even when the snow is still falling (if it’s really coming down). Start out dry and then keep it dry, that’s my motto for our sidewalks through the winter! And way to go to keep that great, sturdy tool for so long. They built them well, and I sure appreciate my old, tough tools. 🙂

  2. Reblogged this on People Excited About Co~Existence and commented:

    As Spring slowly advances, melting snows are thawing and freezing and making great hazards of walkways and sidewalks up in these northern parts of the world. I hope you’ll enjoy this reminder (from last winter) about the importance of maintaining safe walking areas. Not only for yourself, your family and pets, but for visitors, neighbours, and passersby. Let’s help keep everyone safe and keep that ice at bay.


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